Nageln and Maibaum: A VERY Traditional Bavarian Game. Love It!

Nageln and Maibaum: A VERY Traditional Bavarian Game. Love It!

By  Saturday, 28.3.2015, 10:59    Tell Me Something about Munich

One does not have to be long in the Munich area to learn that there are literally hundreds of special traditions taking place all year round, so when a friend of mine in Taufkirchen invited me to see preparations for the new maypole being constructed, I had a feeling it might be an interesting little excursion.

Maypoles of course take pride of place in Bavarian villages, but I learned that they need to be replaced every five years or so. Turning off at a crude sign for the 'Guard's Hut', we came to the following little construction. 

This is the 2015 maypole for Taufkirchen, in its temporary resting place, where it will be guarded from thieves, until it is erected for the May Day celebrations.

At 36 metres long and weighing an impressive five tons, I was not sure who would be trying to steal the future pole. 

That was my first lesson. There is a tradition of neighbouring villages stealing the maypole of other villages, which is then available for collection after the stolen community comes up with a ranson, usually a large amount of beer. The most spectacular maypole theft took place in 2004, when a Burschverein (youth association) from a neighbouring locality managed to steal the maypole from the top of Zugspitze by helicopter, an amazing feat, and they were well rewarded in beer ransom for their daring effort.  

In order to prevent the pole being stolen, each Burschverein has its own guard hut, where eagle-eyed guards comb the territory to seek out potential thieves. My advice to anyone looking to steal the Taufkirchen maypole? 16:00 is a good time, as the guards seem to be a little more relaxed.  

We popped into the hut for a beer and were given a VERY warm welcome from Julius Ammereller from Burschen TV, which is a delightful little Youtube channel, covering proceedings in an informative and funny manner. Here for example is the report on their maypole selection:

And this one on the opening of the Guard Hut and a rather bizarre and fun game called Nageln (or Nailing), which Julius insisted we play. 

The rules are simple. You need a tree trunk, one nail per player and a special hammer. After Julius tapped the nails into the trunk, we were invited to hammer the nail into the trunk, with the winner being the person who managed to make the nail disappear into the trunk completely. Last man has to buy a round of Schnapps. 

A simple enough task if the hammer had been a normal hammer, but it is in fact hollow on the head, so precision on hitting the nail with the edge of the head is required.

It is not easy! Etiquette dictates that is you have a female player, you should sometimes try and hit her nail, but if you have no luck hitting your own, this is not much use, apart from making you look gallant.  

Of course, the more you drink, the better you get, or perhaps the hollow centre gets smaller.  

It is of course very competitive, and there are various sizes of nails and a range of hammers to make the challenge all the harder.  

And once the game is over, the last man has to fork out one euro per shot. These are then banged a few times on the trunk, opened, and as Julius so expertly demonstrates, disposed over rather quickly. 

All in all a very fun visit, and I am sure that Burschen TV will be worth monitoring throughout the year. Check it out here.

Thanks guys, and I recommend you increase your security... 

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Paul Bradbury

After 12 years living on the most gorgeous island in the world, Hvar in Dalmatia, I have begun to wonder if there is still life beyond its shores. Prior to discovering Paradise in 2002, I was a world traveller, living and working in Japan, Georgia, Somalia, Rwanda, Russia... and Munich.

After 95 countries and some 25 years have passed, the memories of my year in the hotel industry in the Bavarian capital (fired by the Sheraton for losing our pet snake, the first male chambermaid at Hotel Arabella, and a truly eye-watering introduction to five-star living in  my days as a bellboy in luxury Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten) are strong, and the call of Munich has been a constant theme over the last quarter century. 

And so here I am, answering the call some 25 years later. Twelve years of island living have changed me for sure, but also left me curious about life in a big city, and whether or not I could adapt to it after such an insular decade. 

I was surprised to see that for such a magnificent multi-cultural city, English-language blogs and regularly updated information are not that available. Static tourism information, such as that provided by the excellent tourist board website yes, but accounts of daily life delivered daily? Hard to find.

And so I have decided to take a break from my idyllic island and see if I could live in a city again. And what better way to try than to discover modern Munich in all its facets after so many years. It is a journey of discovery which I am relishing, and I hope the site proves to be of interest for Munich residents and its numerous visitors.

About Paul Bradbury

Author of Lebanese Nuns Don't Ski, Lavender, Dormice and a Donkey Named Mercedes and Hvar's first comprehensive guidebook, Hvar: An Insider's Guide to Croatia's Premier Island, as well as co-author of Split: An Insider's Guide with Mila Hvilshoj, I have lived in Dalmatia full time since 2003. In addition to running Total Munich, I also run Total Split (, Total Hvar ( and Total Inland Dalmatia (, as well as being an accredited Google News journalist for Digital Journal in Canada.

I also have various blogging clients, including the Central Dalmatia Tourist Board, European Coastal Airlines, Touristar TV and Andro Tomic Wines, and print clients include Qatar Airways inflight magazine, Out! magazine from New York, and Croatian Hotspots. 

In December 2014 I was delighted to receive the Marko Polo 2014 Award from FIJET Croatia (Federation of International Travel Writers and Journalists)  at a ceremony for the Croatian Journalists Society for the best international tourism promotion of Croatia. More here.

Ongoing writing projects:

A History of Hajduk Split, co-author with Frane Grgurevic - in 2015

Around the World in 80 Disasters - out in 2015

Total Hvar in the Media:

Interview of the Month, Croatian Embassy in Washington (May 2013)

Special Feature in Globus Magazine (May 2013)

Featured on Croatian TV show, More (2012) - watch the report here

Interviews in Slobodna Dalmacija, Dalmacijanews, Radio Split

I am available for writing services. Please contact me on [email protected] or visit my main writing website, 

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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